Anniversary of CAPES Materials Area. Part 2.


A little more than four months after the creation of CAPES Materials Area, with Professor Lívio Amaral as pro tempore coordinator, in 12 and 13 of June 2008, the first meeting of postgraduate programs of the new field took place in the headquarters of CAPES, Brasilia. Discussions basically involved the presentation of ten programs already linked to CAPES Materials Area (from UCS, UFC, UFPE, UFRGS, UFRN, UFSC, UNESP – Bauru, UNESP – Ilha Solteira, USP-Lorena and USP São Carlos), meetings with some of the directors from CAPES and the presentation of new programs (from FATEC, FEEVALE, UFMT and UFSCar- Sorocaba). Some programs linked to other areas in CAPES (from UFVSF, UFPR and UFS) have also been invited, to assess a possible change of area. At the end of the event, there was a discussion about creating what they called “the document of the Materials Area”.

This document was finalized in the second meeting of postgraduate programs, which took place in the 5th and 6th of March 2009 at Puc-Rio. At this time, the meeting was summoned by Professor Lívio Amaral, together with SBPMat, presided then by Professor Fernando Lázaro Freire Junior. Discussions included presentation of SBPMat and work teams about the creation of the document.

Professor Carlos Graeff, coordinator of the Materials Area at CAPES, lecturing at USP in November, 2013. Photo supplied by Carlos Graeff.

In April 2009, Professor Lívio Amaral left the coordination of the Materials Area to take over as Evaluation Director at CAPES. Regarding the actions performed during his coordination, which lasted a year and two months, Professor Amaral states that theytake this time to essentially identify the postgraduate programs in the field of Materials; from this, they try to consolidate the Materials Area and include it among the other CAPES areas, in a way that could be understood by the community”. On the other hand, Amaral regrets not being able to stimulate, neither in existing programs nor in new initiatives, “the imperious need to have much more research and human resources formation in Biomaterials”, subarea which, according to the Professor, is still very critical in the country. “All you have to do is go to a MRS meeting, either American or European, and it is easy to observe the increasing research in Biomaterials”, demonstrates Amaral.

On August 12th, 2009, CAPES president, Professor Jorge Guimarães, announced through Normative Regulation 097 that Professor Carlos Frederico de Oliveira Graeff had been assigned to fulfill the role of Materials Area coordinator until 2010, concluding the period of three years started by Lívio Amaral. Graeff still remains the coordinator until June 2014, being assigned for the role for three more years.

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APPENDIX 1: About CAPES Materials Area.

The main tasks of CAPES are: evaluate and promote creating of new postgraduate programs; evaluate existing programs applying grades; evaluate scholarships and other financial support requests for students and teaching staff and for scientific events organization. Besides, CAPES coordinators are the most important interface between academic community and CAPES.

The Materials Area at CAPES is composed by a coordinator and two deputy coordinators. The job of the second deputy coordinator has been recently created, around 2013, to follow up in more detail programs of professional masters. Besides, the Evaluation Direction at CAPES has one or more technicians that help in the coordinators with internal procedures and the interface of CAPES with the community.

Coordinators in the area are chosen by the president at CAPES, after consulting post-graduate programs and technical and scientific societies connected to the area.

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Professor Carlos Graeff, coordinator of the Materials Area at CAPES, lecturing at USP in November, 2013. Photo supplied by Carlos Graeff.

APPENDIX 2: Interview with Professor Carlos Graeff, CAPES Materials Area coordinator from 2009 to 2014.

SBPMat Bulletin: – Could you summarize the quantitative and qualitative evolution of postgraduate courses in Materals in Brazil, since the creation of CAPES Materials Area?

Carlos Graeff: – The area was created in 2008 with the adhesion of 10 programs. We are 29 today, that is, we have increased 290% in 6 years. This is quantitative date, but, most importantly, the area has diversified. It is a multidisciplinary area and with new programs, new frontiers of knowledge have been embraced with interfaces related to biological and medical fields, as well as agriculture, to name a few. Besides, another important feature of this evolution was the expansion of covered areas with postgraduate programs, especially in places with no high level education programs in the field, as the Central-west and Northeast Brazilian regions.

SBPMat Bulletin: – What were the main actions and facts  during your coordination?

Carlos Graeff: – The main mark of our administration was transparency. We had a series of meetings with coordinators and, as the area is still relatively small, we could make a serious of decisions collectively, mostly relating to the evaluation of postgraduate programs. Regarding new courses, we always tried to invite new members, specialists, to the evaluation committees, for a fair examination of requests.  This measure also brought improvement of the existing knowledge concerning CAPES role. A recurring issue is related to unawareness of CAPES work; when bringing a representative number of professors to the assessment processes, there is a tendency to strengthen the relationship between the scientific community and CAPES. I hope that this interview can contribute in that sense.

Besides working in this interface with post-graduate programs, I am a full member of Conselho Técnico-Científico da Educação Superior, where I led the work team with the topic “technical products”. There is an increasing demand for stronger interaction between academic society and society in general, that is, for applied research or technological development. In fact, creating the Materials and Biotechnology Areas at CAPES was basically inspired by this approximation. However, to evaluate programs that work with this interface there is a need for tools that might measure and qualify products such as patents, prototypes, etc. Therefore, it is essential that CAPES successful in assessing intellectual production well (in the case of Materials, basically articles in scientific journals) can be extended to technical production. The discussions have been very productive and we hope that soon they will reflect both on the CAPES evaluation process.

SBPMat Bulletin: – Can you comment on the “Qualis” (CAPES system for evaluation of scientific journals) of Materials Area?

Carlos Graeff: – One of the debates in the area was how to generate a Qualis that would attend multidisciplinary. Qualis is a broadly discussed tool in academic community in general, but especially in more dynamic areas of knowledge, considering its role is one of the most important: to qualify main intellectual products generated by postgraduate programs, scientific papers. The most used method uses impact factor. However, impact factor reflects the size and dynamics of different academic communities. For instance, when we compare average impact factors in Engineering with those of Natural Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology), they are inferior. We do not want to discuss the reasons for this difference which is even more remarkable if, for instance, we enter the realm of humanities. But this difference exists and, therefore, we should take this into consideration in order to avoid distortions in the evaluation process of, for instance, postgraduate research with strong inclination to research in Materials Engineering against Materials Chemistry. Our proposal, therefore, separates journals in big groups: Materials Science, Materials Engineering and correlate areas. By doing this, we try to achieve fairness while comparing papers generated by groups of engineers or physicists that work with Materials. Obviously, our proposal needs some adjustment, but I believe we have taken a step further in this direction.

SBPMat Bulletin: – In your opinion, which are the challenges faced by the area in the next few years?

Carlos Graeff: – Brazil is going through an important time in industry where it suffers with increasingly stronger competition, due to a great opening of our market and the integration with global economy. An important path is the sophistication of our products and processes, and Materials area has a lot to contribute to a stronger and more competitive industry. Nanotechnology is increasingly more emphasized and there are expectations that it might generate a series of new products, which is a fundamental subject of Materials field. Therefore CAPES and SBPMat play an important part in this matter. Actions in this direction are being discussed both at CAPES and SBPMat. Besides great national issues, there is still a lot of room to grow in the area.  There are, for instance, the great and urgent challenges of creating a postgraduate program in the North Brazilian region, the only region with still no offer for Materials courses.

SBPMat Bulletin: – Feel free to add anything else.

Carlos Graeff: – I am honored with the generous invitation from Professor Livio Amaral to conduct the implementation of Materials Area at CAPES. I have learned a lot and I could follow changes that CAPES have been through in the last years, focusing in system improvement. We will soon have significant changes in the assessment process, among them, a new tool to collect and support evaluation called Sucupira Platform. This initiative has been taken with enthusiasm and skillfulness of Professors Amaral and Guimarães. So I would like to end thanking both of them.

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CAPES’s Materials Area Anniversary. Part 1.


At the end of January, 2014, the Brazilian community of Materials research celebrates an anniversary: the Materials Area of CAPES reaches its sixth year of existence. CAPES is the government agency linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Education in charge of promoting high standards for post-graduate courses in Brazil.

In fact, it was on January 30th, 2008, that CAPES’s published a press release announcing the introduction of changes to its table of areas. Such table lists the areas of knowledge and it is used in the evaluations of the post-graduation programs in Brazil. The changes disclosed in such note included the insertion of the Materials Area, which up until then did not exist, and which from then on would be a part of the Multi-disciplinary greater area, which had been recently created.

One day prior to such disclosure, an official letter from CAPES’s Evaluation Office had been sent to all coordinators of post-graduation programs previously identified as possibly being grouped into the new area. The official letter informed that a recent meeting of CAPES’s Superior Board had approved the creation of the new Materials area of evaluation, and also that physicist Lívio Amaral, a professor from the UFRGS (Federal University of the State of Rio Grande do Sul) had been appointed as the pro-tempore coordinator. In addition, the official letter asked the coordinators who deemed it to be in the interest of their programs to become connected to the new area of evaluation, to inform CAPES of their decision.

Background

In September, 2012, professor Amaral had taken part in a meeting at the headquarters of CNPq (Brazilian Council for the Scientific and Technological Development) called by Professor Celso de Melo, who was a director in the council. The theme of the meeting was the Materials Science and Engineering area, and the Advisory Boards of such body. The other participants of the meeting were the professors Glória de Almeida Soares (from COPPE-UFRJ), Elson Longo (from UFSCar) and João Marcos Alcoforado Rebello (from COPPE-UFRJ).

A document signed by the participants of the meeting pointed some problems with the evaluation of research projects in the Materials Area. To sum it up, due to the fact that there was no Advisory Board for the Materials Area at that time, the projects and other requests pertaining to Materials Science or Engineering were often appraised with debatable parameters or sent from area to area until someone was found who could evaluate them, a situation which significantly increased the number of appeals received by the CNPq and the time to reply to the requesting researcher. To solve such issue, the document proposed initially the creation of a committee with representatives from the several areas of knowledge involving Materials and also that the scientific societies with any relation to Materials were to be called to the debate, to find a solution fully backed by the technical and scientific community.

“This matter of the inclusion of a Materials area in the government fostering agencies had been considered since the mid-90s”, Lívio Amaral states. “That occurred within the context of creation of a Brazilian Materials society, having the MRS as a reference, which ended up occurring in the early 00s. At the time, there was a lot of debate in several situations, such as in the Brazilian Meetings on Condensed Matter Physics of the Brazilian Physics Society”, he adds.

In parallel, professor Amaral had been following-up on that matter within CAPES, where he was the coordinator of the Physics and Astronomy Area. According to Amaral, by means of evaluations conducted every three years, it was possible to verify that several post-graduation programs, regardless of the names they had and by which of CAPES’s areas they were encompassed, were awarding master and doctorate degrees with intellectual production in Materials. “Since, in addition to being department coordinator, I also took part in CAPES’s Technical and Scientific Council, I had the opportunity to take that entire matter to debate in such Council”, the professor  comments.

At that time, Jorge Almeida Guimarães, who would become CAPES’s president in 2004, was the coordinator of the Biological Sciences II Area and, like professor Amaral, took part in the Technical and Scientific Council and was a professor in the UFRGS. “We discussed at length the need to create two new areas, the Materials and Biotechnology areas”, Lívio Amaral tells us.

In addition, Amaral recalls that another favorable coincidence then occurred. CAPES’s president at the time was Professor Abílio Afonso Baeta Neves, who had previously been the dean of post-graduation in UFRGS when the program of post-graduation in Materials Science had been submitted to the university, by initiative from professors of the Physics department, Amaral included, and of the Engineering and the Chemistry departments. “In summary, in that scenario, the discussion regarding new areas, inside and outside the Technical and Scientific Council, was very frequent due to such circumstances”, professor Amaral sums it up.

Meeting of CAPES’s Technical and Scientific Council, at the time of professor Abílio Baeta Neves’s presidency. At the table, the third one from the right is the president; the sixth, the one speaking, is professor Jorge Guimarães; the seventh is profesor Lívio Amaral. (Picture provided by Lívio Amaral)

The decision for the creation

According to Amaral, in July, 2007, CAPES held a meeting in Brasília, to consider the possible creation of a new area of knowledge, to be called “Materials”. Representatives from several post-graduation programs were invited, including professor Lívio, who was at the time the coordinator of UFRGS’s program.

The official letter-invitation sent by CAPES’s Evaluation Office contained: “The agency has been granted to such area the importance it deserves, considering the relevance of the creation of new materials for the current science and technology. CAPES’s Superior Council, in addition, has already authorized this Office to create the area at hand. For such decision, the meeting to be held in July 31st shall be decisive, for it will allow us to conclude if such innovative measure is in the interests of the programs – and of the Brazilian science and technologies. The new area would encompass all programs that – currently divided into different areas of knowledge – highlight this theme, which is a priority for the Country and for applied sciences”.

“The meeting was, therefore, conclusive for the creation of the new area and designed the initial milestones for the same”, Amaral states. Thus, on January 25th, 2008, CAPES’s Ordinance No. 09 was published, which ordinance, in its article 3, created two new areas of knowledge, “Materials” and “Biotechnology”, and designated their pro tempore coordinators.

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List of post-graduation programs that adhered to the Materials area (as of March, 2008).

1. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials – UNIVERSIDADE DE CAXIAS DO SUL

2. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Science – UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL  DO RIO GRANDE DO SUL

3. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Engineering and Science – UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DO CEARÁ

4. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Science – UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DE PERNANBUCO

5. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Science and Technology – UNIVERSIDADE ESTADUAL PAULISTA “JÚLIO DE MESQUITA FILHO” – UNESP-BAURÚ

6. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Engineering – UNIVERSIDADE DE SÃO PAULO – ESCOLA DE ENGENHARIA DE LORENA

7. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Engineering and Science – UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DO RIO GRANDE DO NORTE

8. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Engineering and Science – UNIVERSIDADE DE SÃO PAULO – SÃO CARLOS

9. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Science and Technology – UNIVERSIDADE ESTADUAL PAULISTA “JÚLIO DE MESQUITA FILHO” – UNESP- CAMPUS DE ILHA SOLTEIRA

10. Program of Post-Graduation in Materials Engineering and Science – UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DE SANTA CATARINA.

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